Fantasy baseball owners may wonder about the best time to draft a Catcher. Owners draft Buster Posey at #20 overall, which may seem overvalued, but he may be worth it depending on an owner's specific league. The first Catcher "run" in NFBC occurs between picks #105-123. The depth of an owner's league can dramatically affect the value of a C or two C's.
The Gold Standard
Buster Posey serves as the gold standard at C. His .300 BA and 15-20 homers per year serves fantasy owners well, especially when he provides 557 AB's per year. Posey becomes more valuable in deeper leagues and monthly/weekly leagues. For example, Posey scores 205 more points than the 20th best C in a 20-team points league, which makes him 46% more valuable than an average starting C in that league. If one drops to an 18-team league, Posey's value shrinks to 32% more valuable, and he will outscore the 18th C by 177 points. Posey's consistency pays off over a long season in deep leagues, and owners will receive their return on investment if they are willing to pay Posey's price tag.
Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice - Mid-Late Rounds
Above Average Tier
Jonathan Lucroy starts the beginning of the next tier at #105. Injuries hurt his counting stats last year, and his BA regressed below .300 due to BABIP regression. If he can stay healthy, he will hit 12-15 homers in 2016, but owners in points leagues can wait until the next tier if they can stomach a 50-point drop. Lucroy's ability to make contact provides a nice floor for his BA, but owners will have to pay a higher price for his services.
H2H owners that are searching for HR's will want to turn to Brian McCann at #116. The short porch in Yankee Stadium will help McCann reach another 25 homers in 2016. He will provide more Return on Investment for H2H owners because he dominated 48% of his weeks in 2015 versus Lucroy's 38%. H2H owners in 5x5 leagues should balance McCann's low BA to strengthen their team's BA, but his RBI's and HR's will be a strong addition at C.
NFBC owners like Salvador Perez at #111, but he dominated the same amount of weeks as Brian McCann. His 15-17 homers will help owners that want a higher BA from their C's. His .270 BABIP should receive a bump in 2016, but points league owners will want Perez to take more walks. (only 2% in 2015) Perez's heavy work load may hurt his 2016 counting stats.
Back from Injury
The next tier offers a number of C's that were hurt in 2015. Owners that like Salvador Perez's counting statistics can draft Travis d'Arnaud 30 picks later. His injuries cost him time in 2015, but he makes contact 80% of the time, and he walks 8% of the time. H2H will enjoy when he dominates 56% of the weeks he plays, and d'Arnaud hits 42% flyballs, which should lead to 13-16 homers in 2016. Owners may want to draft another C option, in case of injury, if they choose d'Arnaud on their team.
Devin Mesoraco hit 25 HR's in 2014 before injuries cost him the 2015 season. How will he bounce back in 2016? Owners should err on the conservative side for homers because Mesoraco's 25 homers in 2014 were aided by a 20% HR/FB ratio. Owners can expect 15 homers from the 159th selection. He could dominate 50% of the weeks for H2H owners, and Mesoraco should score close to league-average at the Catcher position in points-leagues. (461 points) Optimistic owners should hope for 400 AB in 2016.
Injuries also hurt Yan Gomes' 2015 season. H2H owners saw his dominance rate slip from 54% in 2014 to 40% in 2015, but Gomes should improve his .231 BA in 2016. At the high end of the projections, Gomes may hit 20 homers and score 430 points in 2016. Owners are drafting Gomes at #185.
How will Matt Wieters respond in 2016? Wieters lost some AB's in 2015 to injuries, which may have contributed to his contact rate dropping to 74%. His Fly Ball rate also dropped from 44% in 2013 to 32% last year. A healthy Wieters could provide H2H owners by dominating 55-60% of the weeks and 18 homers. His value in 2016 depends on his health, which owners may not want to pay at #181.
J.T. Realmuto 's speed at C will help points-league owners in 2016, especially if he can steal 10 bases. Realmuto could score 430 points if he can hit 10-12 homers and steal 10-12 bases, and owners can draft him at #176. Realmuto made contact 84% of the time last year, and 45% of the balls ended up on the ground. He dominated 44% of the weeks for H2H owners, but he is capable of more in 2016.
Yasmani Grandal is one more name that owners could target, especially with Grandal's 12 first-half homers in 2015. He lost his power in the second-half and only hit 4 homers. H2H owners will need to be wary of his low BA, but the BA may bounce back a few points with Grandal's .268 BABIP in 2015. If owners need power at C between the tenth-fourteenth rounds, they should turn to Grandal at pick #207.
If owners are willing to spend a second round pick on a Catcher, then they should turn to Buster Posey. Other owners will choose to wait until the middle rounds to select a C. In one 18-team league draft last year, owners drafted Mesoraco, Wieters, and Gomes in the eleventh round while savvy-owners drafted Chris Archer and Shelby Miller after the three C's. Owners that play in daily-lineup leagues can feel free to wait on a C and draft two C's to alternate on days that they play. The two C's will not match Posey's points, but they will provide enough value to avoid falling too far behind the gold standard at C.
Follow me on twitter @BrantChesser
Follow me on twitter @BrantChesser